By David Webb Staff Writer


5 questions with Emily Graves

As program director for Legacy Founders Cottage, Emily Graves is responsible for the day-to-day management of the facility and its staff and for case management and referrals for residents. The facility provides 24-hour care in a home-like setting for people who are incapacitated by HIV-related illness. A Houston native, Graves graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in applied medical anthropology.

What’s a typical day like at the cottage?
There is no typical day when we have a full house. It’s full of case management and visits to hospitals and other places to interview potential clients. As a new manager I’ve been here almost a year I’m still connecting with the staff. I’m also busy establishing relations with donors and other members of the community who want to know more about the cottage. I’m meeting with an Oak Cliff restaurant manager today who is interested in donating hot meals for the residents.

Why did you want to go to work for an HIV residential care facility?
I wanted to work for a nonprofit agency. In graduate school my area of research was AIDS. I was helping public health officials in Denton to become more involved with the gay community. I realized that I could do more in a nonprofit setting than in working for a government agency. It seemed like a good fit for me.

Is your job as stressful as it sounds?
What I tell people is that it’s a hard job, but it’s a rewarding job. I’m happy connecting with people and making a difference in people’s lives. It’s very rewarding to know that you are helping someone’s quality of life.

How would you describe the atmosphere of the cottage?
It’s cozy, and it’s warm. We strive for a family atmosphere. We’re all family. The clients all say that they feel very safe here. That’s a big factor.

Is there a special effort made during the holidays to maintain that family atmosphere?
Our staff members tend to treat the residents like they are members of their own families. They bring food and treats from home for the people who are not picked up by friends or family for a visit. The residents still get the celebration. We’ve decorated for the holidays. We’re very big on celebrations.

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